Thursday, December 17, 2009

Border Patrol: "Our arrests aren't really arrests."

Via Terry Bressi, a report in the Nogales International about a possibly unlawful stop, arrest, and search by the Border Patrol.

Pima Medical Institute student Iris Cooper turned around to return to Patagonia to retrieve her forgotten textbooks and was pulled over by the Border Patrol. Maybe seeing someone perform her maneuver gives "reasonable suspicion" for a stop and maybe it doesn't, but as Bressi notes, standards of probable cause for detaining her for half an hour in handcuffs and searching her vehicle probably isn't in order.

Here's the hilarious part:
Agent David Jimarez, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol, said agents more than likely thought they had pulled over a smuggler and that Cooper was cuffed for both their safety as well as her safety. He said that often smugglers will try to run away if they think their vehicle is going to be searched. “The handcuffing doesn’t necessarily mean that she is being placed under arrest,” said Jimarez, referring to Cooper.

"Yeah, you're in handcuffs, you're not free to go, and it's not an arrest because we don't call it an arrest." I suppose it's better than facing prison time for having been punched in the face by Border Patrol, but still both stupid and unbecoming of agents of the law in a liberal republic.

It looks like La Migra might be getting thumped again.

However, Dan Pochado, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona told the Weekly Bulletin/Nogales International that 99.9 percent of the time such an act would indeed be considered an arrest.

"When you are handcuffed that is effectively an arrest because you are unable to leave voluntarily,” Pochado said. "From the information given, it appears that the level of force here would arise to an unreasonable seizure and a violation, therefore, of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

"Pochado" here is actually "Pochoda", and is no lightweight.

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